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Re: In The Lab: Yamaha CP73 and CP88 Stage Pianos
Stephen Fortner #3029851 02/19/20 09:13 PM
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Quick note: Version 1.31 of the CP OS fixed a worrisome problem in 1.30: If local control was turned off in the MIDI settings, the instrument might not power on.

Advanced Mode

Advanced Mode in the CP73 and CP88 lets you put any Voice (instrument sound) in any section. That includes being able to double up, or triple up, on sounds from the same section. One advantage of this is being able to put a different section’s effects on a Voice. Another example: You could octave-shift three layers worth of the CP’s best piano Voices for a monster montuno sound.

Even in Advanced Mode, the CP remains a three-part multi-timbral instrument, so you won’t be accessing the industry-standard 16 parts via a DAW or anything else.

Here’s how it works. Press the Settings button, go to a menu called “Advanced Mode SW” and press the data dial in for Enter. Each section — Piano, E. Piano, and Sub — can be toggled into Advanced Mode independently. If a section’s switch is on, its LED display (as well as the LEDs for its category knob) will go out, indicating that the usual rules for what lives in that section no longer apply.

[Linked Image from yamahasynth.com]

You select Voices for a section with its rocker switch, the only feedback being that the Voice name appears next to its section in the main LCD display. Do not use the data dial, as this will change the entire Live Set. Since Live Sets include virtually all the settings in the CP, this will likely take you out of Advanced Mode as well, unless it’s a Set you’ve saved where Advanced Mode is active for one or more sections.

I have to admit that with the large number of Voices now in the CP as of recent OS updates, it’s a bit tedious that an up/down rocker switch is the only way to get at them in Advanced Mode. How I’d like to see it work is that you highlight a section in the main display, then use the Live Set buttons as a numeric keypad for random access to all the Voices. Then again, the CP doesn’t have cursor buttons so it’s not immediately clear how Yamaha could implement this. Better still, I’d like to see a software editor (paging John Melas) in which you could set up Live Sets with or without Advanced Mode lickety-split — or lickety-layer (groan).

Still, the benefits of being able to use any section’s effects on any Voice are certainly worth the trouble. One occasion this proved useful was recently, when my girlfriend (a classically trained soprano and conductor who’s been wanting to get a little bit rock ’n’ roll) and I were playing around with a duo arrangement of “Lowdown” by Boz Scaggs for some local cover sets we plan to perform this summer. If you listen to the keyboard alternating between Em9 and A13 chords on the original recording, it sure as heck sounds like the Rhodes is running through a Leslie speaker at fast speed. Well, the CP’s E. Piano section doesn’t have a rotary effect, but the Sub section does. With the “78Rd” Voice, the Sub section’s rotary effect got closer to what I hear on the record than did turning up the rate on the choruses or phasers in the E. Piano section.

As we’ve seen from previous posts in this review, the CP is plenty flexible even if you don’t know Advanced Mode is there. With it, though, you have an extra layer of customizability, and to see what it can do without even having to roll your own, plenty of Live Sets that take advantage of Advanced Mode are available at Soundmondo, Yamaha’s online patch sharing community. The CP section is here.

Next
We'll get into the nuts and bolts of Live Sets.

Last edited by Stephen Fortner; 02/19/20 09:13 PM.

"I'm just a confused musician who got sidetracked into this damned word business..." -Hunter S. Thompson

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Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Re: In The Lab: Yamaha CP73 and CP88 Stage Pianos
Stephen Fortner #3030344 02/24/20 06:16 PM
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LIVE SETS

Live Sets in the CP73 and CP88 are what any number of other stage pianos or synth workstations would label performances, combis, multis, or setups. That is, they’re multi-timbral arrangements of sounds saved in memory along with all supporting settings such as key zones, controller entry values, effects, and more. In fact, the Yamaha Motif family used the term performance, and the Montage and MODX synths because are essentially in performance mode all the time.

That’s the case on the CP as well, albeit in a simpler fashion given that internally, the instrument has just three instrument parts. Live Sets also save all MIDI settings that relate to the external world, but we’ll get into that in a separate post about the CP’s capabilities as a MIDI master controller.

In terms of the CP’s own sounds, a Live Set can consist of one, two, or three Voices, with each of them active in either the left or right keyboard zones (or both) depending on the setting of the toggle button in its section. In Advanced Mode (see my most recent previous post), each Voice can be from any section. Either or both halves of the little lozenge graphic in the display will light up to let you know where it’s Voice is split-wise.

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1QZn6aR0dvoMoWkPUfW2MueKvHKpeiw8J

Live Sets are organized into pages of eight, with 20 pages available in total. Thirteen of these populated by factory presets; the remaining seven are empty and available for saving your own Sets without overwriting anything. You access pages with the +/- buttons and Live sets with the numeric 1-8 buttons, or you can scroll through every Live Set serially using the data dial.

In the Settings > Receive Switch menu, you can select which of the CP’s three instrument sections are affected by the expression, sustain, sostenuto, and soft pedals (independently for each section and each pedal). These settings are of course saved as part of the Live Set, which is important — depending on the musical application, you may want to sustain a pad while soloing a sustain-less electric piano over it. You may want to swell that pad up underneath a piano part that’s unaffected by the expression pedal. And so on.

There’s one thing I find a particular pain about Live Sets, which I’ve mentioned before: The CP’s procedure for naming them. However, firmware updates since I’ve had the CP have made this less of a pain, which I’ll describe in a moment.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/q...DWYY1WVK3nNNQyJa59q8426Arfs=w800-h732-no

In the image above (sorry but either Google Photos or UBB doesn't want to let me embed), I’ve selected Name from the Settings menu. The data dial scrolls through alpha-numeric characters for a given character place in the name, and you need the Live Set selection buttons for the rest. Buttons 1 and 2 cursor back and forth along the Live Set name. Button 3 inserts the selected character before the highlighted character space. Button 5 changes the current character to the selected one. Since you’re selecting characters with the data dial, the intuitive thing to do when you get to the character you want is to press the dial (Enter) to make it part of the name. Nope — you want to use button 3 or 5 for that. Back in OS version 1.0, making this mistake would bounce you out to the home screen and lose your changes. As of 1.31 (or perhaps before, I’m not sure) the situation has improved: You now get a prompt to “store” or “do not store now,” with the latter highlighted by default. Pressing Enter still returns you to the home screen, though — you want the Exit button to get back to the naming screen.

At any rate, scrolling through characters on a little LCD is no part of what Prince meant by partying like it’s 1999, which again speaks to the need for a CP editor. I’ll say the same for swapping and moving live sets around from one page/number location to another — though it’s better that the CP includes this ability than not.

What I also haven’t found a way to do — and perhaps I’m missing something obvious — is more complex zoning setups on the three internal sections. Let’s say I want to split the keyboard three ways or have Voices overlap within a limited range of keys. I know you can do this with external zones with the CP in Master Keyboard mode (which we’ll tackle in the next post), but again, I haven’t yet figured out the correspondence between the CP’s three instrument sections and how it communicates MIDI to them internally. I’ll keep at it.

Next

We’ll look at the CP’s abilities as a MIDI controller for external sound sources.

Last edited by Stephen Fortner; 02/27/20 05:05 PM.

"I'm just a confused musician who got sidetracked into this damned word business..." -Hunter S. Thompson

Stephen Fortner
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Senior Editor, Music Player Network
Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Re: In The Lab: Yamaha CP73 and CP88 Stage Pianos
Stephen Fortner #3030820 02/28/20 03:26 AM
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I have to say, this format is *amazing* for digging into new gear. Mr. Fortner is a talent when it comes to 'splaining things.

Although I'm not in the market for the CP (using a Nord Stage 3 Compact as my main board these days), it's interesting to see how Yamaha is addressing this market. While I appreciate their limited library of great curated sounds, the Nord approach lets me load almost anything (including sample shots from popular songs) which turns out to be a very useful thing if you play across several bands.

I'm a big fan of this review format. I really hope it continues.


Life is too short to be playing bad music.

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Home: Bosie 200, Yam AG N3
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Re: In The Lab: Yamaha CP73 and CP88 Stage Pianos
cphollis #3031792 03/05/20 05:02 PM
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Thanks for the kind words, cphollis! More to come on this GearLab piece, and more gear threads coming very soon!

Re: In The Lab: Yamaha CP73 and CP88 Stage Pianos
Stephen Fortner #3031958 03/06/20 04:21 PM
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MIDI CONTROLLER FUNCTIONS

The CP73/CP88 can function as a four-zone master MIDI controller when its Master Keyboard mode is engaged. This is accessed by pressing the Settings button. Then, selecting the Master Keyboard item gives you a choice of three submenus:
- Mode SW: Turns Master Keyboard mode on or off.
- Advanced Zone SW: Decides, per zone, whether you have access to a basic or far more extended set of MIDI settings.
- Zone Settings: Per zone, lets you scroll through and adjust these MIDI settings.

The behavior of the internal sound engine and keyboard splits/layers is completely independent of whatever you’re doing with external zones. Presumably this is because the CP puts internal and external control on different ports. Activating splits on the CP didn’t affect the MIDI channel that was showing up in a simple monitor app I was running.

The upside of this is that you can have the full benefit of splitting and layering the CP’s internal sounds per the control panel, then work with four additional zones controlling a combination hardware and/or software sound sources connected via the USB-B or traditional 5-pin MIDI ports. The downside is that there doesn’t seem to be any way to address the internal Voices and sections with more advanced MIDI zoning than what the panel offers. Let’s say you wanted a three-way split, something pretty common at gigs where you’re covering multiple keyboard parts with minimal equipment. As far as I can tell, the CP doesn’t offer a way to make this happen. It’s odd and I feel like I must be missing something, because you can do this with external zones to your heart’s content.

Basic vs. Advanced Zone Modes

First things first: All of what I’m about to go over is saved at the Live Set level, so you can move between internal-Voices-only and hybrid setups with ease. The Advanced Zone switch is different from the Advanced Mode switch. As I wrote in a previous post, the latter lets you put any internal Voice in any section. The former enables a boatload more MIDI parameters per external zone.

Without the Advanced Zone SW, each zone has on/off, MIDI transmit channel, octave-shift, transpose, and low and high note limits.

Enable the parameter, and each zone can now transmit program changes, bank MSB and LSB, and MIDI volume (sent by the CP’s master volume knob) and panning. Then, you get a bunch of toggles for whether a given zone transmits controller messages. These cover note-on/off, volume, pan, program change, bank select, pitch-bend, modulation, and all four pedals (sustain, switch, and two continuous) independently.

Note that you can also decide whether internal Voice sections are affected by the “wheels” (those little silver levers) and pedals, but this happens in a different place: Settings > Controllers. In this submenu, you also can assign what CC message the continuous pedals send, but the switch pedal assignment is global to the instrument and accessed via the MENU button. (In general, MENU button stuff is global while SETTINGS button parameters are saved with Live Sets.)

In Use

I tested the CP’s abilities as a MIDI boss with a number of virtual instrument setups in Gig Performer, MainStage, and Logic Pro. There’s not a lot to comment on here, because everything worked as expected and reliably. Match transmit channels to receive channels and you’re off to the races. Of course, any sort of host software is smart enough that you could handle all the zoning and controller reception on the receiving end and just use the CP as a nice slab of keys. The advantage of making the CP the “brain,” though, is that you can make everything Live Set-centric and change your whole setup with the CP’s hardware buttons.

A cool advantage of controlling USB-connected instruments is that the CP also streams audio over USB. With one connection to my iPad and a multi-timbral iOS synth such as Korg Gadget, I can have one hell of a lot of sounds underneath my fingers and all coming out the CP’s tidy XLR outputs. I still wish the USB-B port would charge the darned iPad, though.

One unexpectedly cool bonus was that the CP can be set up so that when a Voice section is turned off, its knobs transmit MIDI. If whatever soft synth you’re controlling has a MIDI Learn function (and most things these days do), filter sweeps and envelope tweaks are easy to achieve. No, it’s not having a bank of assignable knobs and faders as you would on a dedicated MIDI controller or large synth workstation, but it’s something.

Re: In The Lab: Yamaha CP73 and CP88 Stage Pianos
Stephen Fortner #3031959 03/06/20 04:22 PM
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CONCLUSIONS

A term I like to use is “bottom keyboard.” Meaning, the instrument (often weighted and larger than 61 keys) that occupies the bottom tier on your keyboard stand and provides a ton of your go-to sounds including piano and electric piano. Depending on your gigs, the bottom keyboard can also be the only keyboard. The CP does one hell of a job being either. The sounds are premium if a bit limited in scope, but Yamaha’s focus with the CP seems to be “Do it well or don’t do it at all,” and again, you can view this as curation that actually makes your musical decisions easier.

The ¼-inch audio inputs and USB audio streaming make the CP particularly useful as the hub of a multi-keyboard or hardware-software hybrid rig. As I get older and crankier, I find that any piece of gear and associated setup time I can shave off my live gig setup makes a difference. With the CP, this includes a compact mixer and/or stereo direct box — two more things I don’t have to hook up or figure out where to put if I’m crammed into a corner space the size of a bistro two-top.

The CP73 in particular hits the sweet spot for me in terms of portability, size, and price ($1,999), even to the point of stealing a little thunder from its upmarket sibling. If you’re piano-centric enough that the upgraded action and full 88-note range are worth the extra $500 and about 15 pounds, you know who you are.

With this, I’d like to bring my official portion of the MPN GearLab discussion of the Yamaha CP73 and CP88 to a close. Of course, this thread will remain open for questions and I will try to answer them as quickly as possible. If I don’t know something, I’ll endeavor to get you answers from the horse’s mouth at Yamaha.

In short, the CP73 and CP88 are damned great stage pianos that pack just the right sounds and supporting features into the right form factor at what I think is a more-than-fair price. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’d do yourself a disservice not to get some hands-on time with one or the other before pulling the trigger on buying anything.


"I'm just a confused musician who got sidetracked into this damned word business..." -Hunter S. Thompson

Stephen Fortner
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Senior Editor, Music Player Network
Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Re: In The Lab: Yamaha CP73 and CP88 Stage Pianos
Stephen Fortner #3031960 03/06/20 04:26 PM
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Thanks for all your work on this. 2thu


A reason why I collect old keyboards is that I feel partly responsible for doing it, responsible for preserving history and being a custodian for these things
Plus, old gear has a story. I like that.
Re: In The Lab: Yamaha CP73 and CP88 Stage Pianos
davedoerfler #3032042 03/06/20 11:22 PM
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Originally Posted by davedoerfler
Thanks for all your work on this. 2thu

yeahthat cool thx

dB

Re: In The Lab: Yamaha CP73 and CP88 Stage Pianos
Stephen Fortner #3032085 03/07/20 04:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Stephen Fortner
Originally Posted by tfort
Stephen-

If you're in communication with Yamaha, maybe you could get their answers on some things. I'd like to hear your guesses as well, if they're not forthcoming:

1. What is the status of the CP88/73 with MIDI 2.0? They've been heavily involved with MIDI 2.0 through the AMEI and I'd like to know whether their current instruments were designed to incorporate it, or will need to be updated in some way to take advantage of it.
2. Does Yamaha intend to make an editor program of some sort (an iOS Universal app preferably) to allow you to configure lives sets easily, name things quickly, etc? If not now, will they if enough folks request it?
3. Any chance they can develop a sound library and sound librarian similar to what Nord does? If users could contribute to the available sounds, and if sounds could be moved on/off the board at will, it would relieve the problem that there are still so many sounds that the CP's just don't offer.


tfort, just a postscript to say I asked Blake Angelos of Yamaha these questions and he promised to hop on this thread and answer as soon as he’s able. I’ve been over there many times and know how busy they are, so give him some time. About question 3, Yamaha does have this online sound-sharing community called Soundmondo, with sections for various instruments (it launched at the same time as the Reface synths), and the CP is in there. But I think that’s for sharing patches (Live Sets) only, i.e. stuff you can program with existing sounds in the instrument. Now, that's plenty, but it's not the same thing as, say, the Nord Piano Library, where you can download sounds with new wave content. In terms of that, I’ll bet Yamaha prefers to keep it under tighter control and release new sounds with OS updates. They've already done a pretty good job of that, too. Upside: Since the sounds are all in ROM, there's no boot-up time, however many updates Yamaha makes. When I turn on the power switch, I can't even count to three before the CP is ready to play.

Hopefully we'll hear more from the Yamaha mothership soon re your questions.


Stephen-

Just a note that I'm still checking in hoping to see Blake answer my earlier questions. If he could either answer them himself or pass his answers on to you to post that would be much appreciated.

Re: In The Lab: Yamaha CP73 and CP88 Stage Pianos
Stephen Fortner #3032354 03/09/20 03:56 PM
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tfort, I'll ping Blake again. An editor-librarian is the biggest thing on my wish list for the CP. As for MIDI 2.0, great question as well. I would imagine there are some plans for compatibility, though. For hardware reasons it obviously won't implement every feature (e.g. MPE), but I'd love to see things like Property Exchange and profiling.


"I'm just a confused musician who got sidetracked into this damned word business..." -Hunter S. Thompson

Stephen Fortner
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Senior Editor, Music Player Network
Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Re: In The Lab: Yamaha CP73 and CP88 Stage Pianos
Stephen Fortner #3045773 05/25/20 03:30 PM
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A belated thanks for this amazing in-depth review of the CP88/73. Just received my YC61 last week and have been in a deep dive figuring it out. I was looking for a place to cross check how I was setting it up and with no in-depth reviews on the YC yet I decided to look for CP reviews because the architecture is virtually identical....other than the organ section of course. The vast majority of the above is applicable to the YC as well. Looking forward to your getting your hands on a YC...will be very curious to see how you feel about the organ section. Compared to Nord at least, Yamaha has taken quite a different approach to creating the basic sounds of the underlying organ and the Leslie sims.

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